Durham Constabulary has announced that firearms and shotgun certificate applicants must provide and pay for a medical report from their GPs.
The move has angered shooters, and goes way beyond the Home Office guidance or the existing requirements set out by law.
The law states that relevant medical conditions must be declared on the application form for a firearm or shotgun certificate, and that this can be checked by police with the applicant’s GP.
However, Durham Constabulary is now demanding that applicants submit a separate medical consent form and that they meet any fee charged by their GP.
BASC’s director of firearms and Shooting Times contributor Bill Harriman said: “BASC has asked the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary to state the legal basis of this scheme and awaits his reply with interest.
Early legal advice strongly suggests that it is unlawful. There has been no meaningful consultation with lawful gun owners and this is a unilateral initiative that has been imposed by Durham to cover up earlier shortcomings in the Michael Atherton case.
BASC’s advice to certificate holders is that they should not comply with it, and should complain if there is any attempt towards coercion.”
Shooting Times contacted Durham Constabulary, which clarified the situation: “In the interests of public safety Durham Constabulary is encouraging people applying for a firearms certificate or the renewal of a licence to take part in a pilot scheme which began on 1 August and will run for six months.”
“In support of this scheme, all applicants are requested to submit a copy of the front page of their completed application form to their GP along with a medical consent form so that their GP can report to the force regarding the accuracy of the medical information supplied.”
“The applicant is responsible for paying any fee charged by the GP.”
“The trial was introduced after a comprehensive review of firearms licensing carried out by the force found a number of certificate holders had either deliberately or mistakenly withheld relevant information which had a direct bearing on their suitability to hold a firearms licence.”
“Applications submitted by people who choose not to be involved in the trial will be considered in the usual way but if a GP’s report is subsequently required the applicant will be responsible for paying that fee.”
“Having a medical issue is not an automatic bar to being a certificate holder but clearly certain conditions can affect a person’s suitability to hold a firearms certificate and, as public safety is paramount, the force must be aware of those issues so that a judgement can be made.”
“The force needs to ensure that shooting enthusiasts can enjoy their hobby without endangering other members of the public and themselves.”
Deputy Chief Constable Michael Banks said: “This pilot scheme was publicised during a consultation meeting with national and local stakeholders in June and has the full backing of the Local Medical Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner.”
Shooting Times also spoke to the Association of Chief Police Officers, who said: “ACPO is working with medical services and shooting organisations to try to find a cost-effective and efficient way forward, but it is a long process and we need to look at the manner in which information is shared and the costs involved.”
Durham firearms licence applicants to pay for medical checks